State Senator Collins legislation protects student privacy

 

Colleges may not ask for Facebook passwords, access accounts without cause

 

SPRINGFIELD, IL – Illinois State Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins (D-16th) is sponsoring a measure to protect the privacy of students who use social media such as Twitter and Facebook. House Bill 64, approved by the Senate Education Committee, prohibits colleges and universities from requesting students’ social networking passwords or requiring students to give their schools access to their accounts.

“Students, particularly college students who are legally adults, reasonably expect schools to respect their privacy,” Collins said. “Last year I co-sponsored a law preventing employers from asking employees or prospective hires for their passwords; there’s no reason not to extend the same protection to our students.”

Colleges and universities would still be able to adopt and enforce rules governing the use of social media on computers and Internet connections provided by the school. If they suspect a social media account contains evidence that a school rule has been violated, they may require a student to furnish a password to the account. The measure also affirms that schools and universities may view any information a student makes public on a site such as Facebook. Elementary, middle and high schools may demand access or a password if they have reason to believe a social networking account contains evidence of wrongdoing, but they must notify students and parents of this policy.

HB 64 passed the House in March by a vote of 60 to 54. If approved by the Senate, it will go to the governor for his signature.